When was the last time you bought something from a vending machine? This mechanical relic enables the most basic of transactions to take place: coin goes in, Devil Dog falls out, chowing down commences. The question is, what series of gassed-up trucks delivered that sugar rush, which global conglomerate’s assembly line pumped out the chocolate-brown ball of of fructose corn syrup, and to what end? Big questions for something being licked off a piece of cellophane, my friends.
Whether it’s a humble snack cake or a low-end knockoff of your favorite pair of kicks, big business looms over the dim remains of mom-and-pop storefronts. Artist Simon Hasan decided to broach the evolution of commerce, craft and industry in his latest installation, Industrial Makeshift, wherein he questions the role of handmade within the modern production system.
But how to make such a point? That’s where the vending machine comes in. Hasan has produced 400 buttery leather bowls, vases and cups using the medieval leather-working technique of Cuir Bouilli, a.k.a. boiled leather, which was once used as a technique to construct scales for armor. His version of Cuir Bouilli involved wrapping thrift store finds and prototypical examples of mass-production in leather, then immersing them in scalding water. The result is a hardened, brand-less relic that appears as though it could have been produced any time in the last 2000 years.
And herein lies the sweet, sweet rub. Hasan enthusiastically touts his “mass-produced hand-crafted one-offs” while making light of the creative process — for, even though it’s handmade using an antiquated technique, it’s still a rip-off (of an economy destroyer), no? Where handmade and mass-produced ends is hard to say, but the work looks good enough to nibble upon.
…And what about that vending machine? All of these pieces were sold for only £3 from a specially rigged machine in Northampton Market Square in England. No Devil Dogs were sold.
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